December 2017 Yellowbill

02 Dec December 2017 Yellowbill


President’s Message

We close out our 2017 meetings this month with Gary Woods’ photography presentation on Tuesday 12 December at 7:00 pm. We usually hold this meeting at the Woodward Park Library, but it was unavailable this year so the meeting will be at our usual meeting location, UC Center, 55o E Shaw (across from Fashion Fair Mall). Gary’s photographs are always a big draw, so be sure to arrive early to socialize with your fellow birders!

Our final field trip of 2017 will be a Raptor Run in the Madera Grasslands with George Folsom. The route is along the back roads of the Madera foothills and the Grassland Important Bird Area normally yields large numbers of raptors and other birds; sometimes over a hundred Red-tailed Hawks are seen. Details are below and also in the calendar.

December starts the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season, and Fresno Audubon members are conducting four counts in different locations from Merced to Tehachapi. The contacts for each local count are listed below, and more information will be sent by email as the events get closer. If you have been reluctant to participate in a CBC you should try it this year. You don’t have to be an expert birder to help, there will be plenty of expertise in your group. The more eyes we have the more birds we will see. Please join us for at least one of these very rewarding events.

Jane Manning, FAS Conservation Chair, has again this year been organizing Sandhill Crane counts along with the managers of Merced National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge staff wants to get an accurate count of the numbers of cranes using the area, and there is not enough budget to pay for the people needed for the count. Please consider volunteering for the counts, its a great reason to visit the refuge. The next count will be 12 December at 6:00 am at the Merced NWR. Please contact Jane to volunteer at 559-978-0192 or At the last count on 21 November ten volunteers helped out, but the fog limited visibility. They tried an evening count on 30 November and counted over 5000 cranes.

Our online store will go live very soon. You will be able to order shirts and caps with the FAS logo, as well as Tricolored Blackbird pins. At press time there were still a few issues, but as soon as they are resolved we will let you know by email.

This time of year many people like to donate to their favorite charities. I hope you will consider Fresno Audubon in your giving plans. It is easy to donate, just visit and click on the Donate button.

I wish everyone Happy Holidays and I hope you all have a great 2018.



December Meeting
A Year of Bird Photography
with Gary Woods
12 December 2017, 7:00 pm
UC Center


Join us on Tuesday, December 12th at 7:00 pm at UC Center for our annual December program presented by local bird photographer Gary Woods. He has traveled around California and Arizona with his camera gear over the last year. He will be sharing with us his favorite photos and videos of some very rare birds (as well as simply pretty ones that are very common) and some first county records and rare vagrants in migration that he came across in 2017. The program will start off with a very quick check on eBird of what’s going on locally, and it will end with a chance to ask questions and a door prize of one of his framed photos.
This meeting was originally scheduled for the Woodward Park Library, but has been moved to UC Center where we usually meet. We hope to see you on November 14 at 7:00 at UC Center, 550 E Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93710
Great Gray Owl by Gary Woods

Great Gray Owl by Gary Woods


Field Trips

Fresno Audubon offers field trips on Wednesdays (twice per month) and Saturdays (once per month) from September through June. Our website has a great calendar that allows you to see all the details of an upcoming trip as they become finalized. Included in the details is a map showing the meeting point for the trip. The calendar is subscribable, which allows you to integrate it into whatever electronic calendar you use. Updates to events will appear as they are made. We encourage you to subscribe.

December Field Trips

Raptor Run, 13 December 2017, with George Folsom

The Raptor Run in the Madera County foothills and grasslands is always a rewarding outing for birders. Numerous species of hawks and eagles hunt this habitat. Some are residents and some winter here having left their northern breeding range. Sparrows, finches, phoebes, burrowing owls and more can be found. If there are vernal pools, wading species and ducks are possible.

This trip is a moderate drive on paved and some dirt roads. Parking is often limited along these roads so please carpool as much as possible. If you are coming from the Fresno area please meet in the Target parking lot in River Park Shopping Center at Highway 41 and East El Paso Ave at 7:45 AM. If you are coming from the north, meet us at the Extra Mart-Valero Gas Station (the old 22 mile house) at highway 41 and road 208 at 8:20 AM. We plan to be done by 2:00 PM. There are restrooms at Hensley Lake on the way out but none for the rest of the trip.

Checklist: binoculars, scope, field guide, snacks, lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, radios

George Folsom

Map to Fresno meeting point:

Map to Madera meeting point:


Christmas Bird Counts

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, with over 100 years of citizen science involvement. It is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. Audubon’s 118th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted this coming season, with all counts held between the dates of Thursday, December 14, 2017 through Friday, January 5, 2018. Since the Christmas Bird Count began over a century ago, it has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers like you. Please plan to join in one of these counts.

Lost Lake CBC, 17 December 2017

The Lost Lake CBC will take place this year on Sunday, December 17. Our count strategy will need to change slightly this year, now that the Dry Creek Reservoir can no longer be birded by vehicle. In previous years, the reservoir was covered as one small part of a much larger area. That won’t work if we can’t get a vehicle into that area. I don’t want to omit the reservoir from the count, since we’ve found lots of good birds there in years past.

Are there a couple of people who would volunteer to bird the reservoir grasslands on foot as their primary task that day? It may not take all day to do it, but will certainly require several hours. Total walking distance (in and out) is 3.4 miles.

Also, the group that has often gone out owling in the very early morning hours will not be able to participate in this year’s count. Is anyone willing to do some owling anywhere in the count circle before dawn? Please let me know if you can do this.

Kevin Enns-Rempel
Fresno, CA

Map to meeting point:

Tehachapi CBC, 18 December 2017

The Tehachapi Christmas Bird Count will be held on Monday, December 18. We will meet at Henry’s Cafe on Tucker Road in Tehachapi starting at 6am and go from there. For more information contact:

Larry Parmeter
Fresno, CA

Map to meeting point:


Lake Yosemite/Merced CBC, 21 December 2017

After last year’s successful debut, I will be coordinating and compiling the Lake Yosemite/Merced CBC once again this year, which will occur on December 21, 2017. This count will be centered on the UC Merced Vernal Pool Reserve, and will cover a vast swatch of Merced County ranging from the campus to the foothills near Hornitos and from Lake Road south of the campus to the Merced River near Snelling. More information about the count (i.e. Start time, meeting places, etc.) will be emailed when the time gets closer.

Nathan Parmeter
Merced, CA

Merced NWR CBC, 3 January 2018

The annual Merced National Wildlife Refuge Christmas Bird Count will take place on Wednesday January 3, 2018. We will meet at the parking lot of the Merced refuge on Sandy Mush Road at 7am and go from there. Contact:

Larry Parmeter
Fresno, CA
Map to meeting point:



by  Jeff Davis
Photos by Gary Woods except where noted
Including reports for the period of
October 16 to November 15, 2017

Two Pacific Golden-Plovers at the Fresno Wastewater Treatment Plant October 27 (ph. GW) and

Pacific Golden-Plover by Gary Woods

Pacific Golden-Plover

one there through at least November 4 (ph. CR, KER) were good finds; this species is detected less than annually in our area. Scarcer still, an American Golden-Plover (ph. GW; ph. LH, GF, RS),

American Golden-Plover by Gary Woods

American Golden-Plover

just the second ever reported for our area, was discovered October 31 (ph. GW) and remained through at least November 4 (ph. CR, KER). Rare at any season in our area, a Costa’s Hummingbird,

Costa’s Hummingbird

an adult female, visited the Intermountain Nursery October 19 (ph. GW); another was in northwest Fresno November 3-4 (ph. GW, et al.). Providing the first record of the species for Madera County, a juvenile female Vermilion Flycatcher set up shop at a small pond along the Madera Canal

Female Vermillion Flycatcher by Gary Woods

Female Vermillion Flycatcher

November 4 through the end of the period (ph. GW; ph. m.ob.). A Red Fox Sparrow at the River

Red Fox Sparrow by George Folsom

Red Fox Sparrow by George Folsom

Center November 9 (ph. GF) provided the fourth record of this form for our area.

Cited Observers: Kevin Enns-Rempel, George Folsom, Lynn Hemink, Chris Rempel, Rick Saxton, Gary Woods. m.ob. = many observers, ph. = photographed by.

If you make an interesting observation, we’d love to hear about it. We are especially interested in birds listed as casual or rare on the Fresno Audubon checklist and those found out of season, out of normal habitat, or in unusually large numbers. Please submit reports to Jeff Davis (246-3272,, the Fresno County Birders e-mail list, or eBird.

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